In Nishi Tama, only about one and a half hour driving time from Central Tokyo, sits the Tenko-ji temple. Tenko-ji offers deep mind-body training, not only to priests, but also to any of those who suffer from something (ex. sports players facing slumps, people having some kind of agony in their minds etc.) or who just want to take a look at themselves again under a strict environment. The Temple’s “shugyo” curriculum is sometimes used for corporate business training as well. Over 5000 people annually visit Tenko-ji to take the “shugyo”. Despite the vastness of the grounds, they don’t have any parishioners called “danka”, or cemeteries like other temples do. This is due to the temple’s policy of concentrating solely on “shegyo” training. Tenko-ji temple offers a wide variety of courses from one day workshops to extended stay-overs.
The training starts at 6 in the morning, and bedtime is at 9. The daily time schedules are quite busy and rigorous. Here are some examples of the training.
1. Ohyakudo mairi
“Ohyakudo” literary means one hundred times, and “mairi” is pilgrimage. So, “ohyakudo mairi” refers the act of visiting certain temples (or shrines) one hundred times. In the case of Tenko-ji, trainees visit this Kobo Daishi statue 108 times. Trainees have to make 20 meter round trips between an established starting point and the shrine itself, and chant “Namudaishihenjoukongou” 108 times during their circuits. Sounds quite tough! Here is a video of their “ohyakudo mairi” training.
Taki-gyo is meditation done sitting under a waterfall. Although the amount of the water is extreme, focusing on the inner-self and leaving the mind unaffected no matter the physical surroundings helps the visitor feel unbelievably refreshed.
3. Zen meditation (zazen)
As you may know, “zazen” is a sitting style meditation. Keep your body and mind relaxed, take breaths, and rise above the self, and you will be able to release your stress and enforce your spiritual strength. The zen meditation method Tenko-ji is offering is beginners’ level.
If you’re interested in “shugyo”, why not visit Tenko-ji temple?
This is JAPAN Style!